By KBC Reporters
The Judiciary plans to hear over 100 children cases over the next five days to clear a backlog at Milimani law courts.
Lady Justice Martha Koome says the exercise is intended to rid the system of long standing cases to enhance efficient operation of the Children’s Court.
According to Lady Justice Martha Koome the exercise which targets children cases that have been pending for more than a year will end on Friday 15th April.
Justice Koome says the court has embraced plea bargaining to fast track the cases, where a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor
Speaking during the launch of the Children’s Court service week U.S ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec called on children protection from extremism which he said remains a major threat to the society.
Godec said the Judiciary should work hand in hand with other stakeholders including the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to expedite the pending cases.
The five day exercise is set to be devolved to the county level to clear long standing cases at courts with those involved being called to inform the court whether or not they intend to proceed with legal action.
In January this year, the Chief Justice, in conjunction with the NCAJ, established a taskforce on Children’s Matters chaired by Lady Justice Martha Koome of the Court of Appeal.
Through this taskforce, Judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, National Police Service, National Youth Service, Probation Services, Department of Children Services, Law Society of Kenya’s Strengthening Access to Justice and Youth in East Africa Program (SAJCYEA) and Pendekezo Letu have partnered to undertake the “Fast Track to Justice Initiative” at the Nairobi Children Court.
The outcomes of this Initiative will contribute towards recommendations that are to be made by the NCAJ’s taskforce on children’s matters to create an enabling and sustainable environment for children who come into contact with the law.
Through the advocacy of legal aid lawyers from the SAJCYEA, Pendekezo Letu and others, the Fast Track to Justice Initiative will ensure legal representation to all children to protect their rights as required by law regardless of whether they wish to enter a guilty plea.
For those who decide to exercise their right to trial, hearings will be held.
To increase the capacity to hear and adjudicate cases, services of 12 stenographers trained by the National Youth Service to record and transcribe the proceedings will be used.
It is hoped that by providing children with a free advocate and resolving the cases expeditiously, children will spend more time in school than in remand homes awaiting their court dates and victims will spend less time awaiting justice.